I was excited going into the VP debate because the moderator was a woman. Elaine Quijano! A woman, AND a minority. I was so excited for her to really shove women’s issues and implicit bias in the faces of both of the candidates! YEAH! She started strong, then things went so, so wrong.
It was all lovely when Elaine Quijano acknowledged both Pence and Kaine for their civil service, and threw a nod of recognition in the direction of the live audience, reminding them to hold their enthusiasm for the end of the debate, and to stay on their own rug until storytime was over.
Did Hillary instruct Tim Kaine to interrupt Mike Pence as some sort of twisted retribution for the countless times she was interrupted by Trump during the First Presidential debate? If so, BRAVO. Is this the true meaning of “Stronger Together”? Men and women? Interruptors and Non-Interruptors? Together in perfect har-mo-ny?
And then Pence brought out the “businessman card:”
PENCE: “Look, to get to your question about trustworthiness, Donald Trump has built a business through hard times and through good times. He’s brought an extraordinary business acumen. He’s employed tens of thousands of people in this country.”
Okay, let’s run this through the Trump Translator:
PENCE: “Donald Trump has built a business through hard times and good times”
TRUMP TRANLSATOR: “Donald Trump inherited a lot of money from his rich dad and then he declared bankruptcy. Six. Times.”
PENCE: “He’s brought an extraordinary business acumen.”
TRUMPSLATOR: “He has a famous catchphrase.”
PENCE: “He’s employed tens of thousands of people in this country.”
TRUMPSLATOR: “And he even paid some of them!”
And then there was the still frame to end all still frames, the one image that sums up, if not the past 240 years of American history, at least this election cycle:
You can see the defeat written across her face. Who’s winning this debate?
Not Elaine Quijano, that’s for damn sure. She looked as lost as I felt on my first day teaching sixth grade. In her tight-lipped grimace, I could see myself as I was that day, screaming silently into my cheeks “PLEASE JUST STOP TALKING WE HAVE TO GET THROUGH THIS.” When she begged them to stop quibbling over Iraq and focus on the economy, I wanted to yell through the screen, “BRIBE THEM WITH STARBURSTS!” “LET THEM HAVE CLASS OUTSIDE!” “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WOMAN, TEXT THE PRINCIPAL TO COME SAVE YOU!” I was having some pretty gnarly flashbacks, I’m aware of how weak that makes me sound, but I couldn’t help it.
PENCE: Hillary Clinton failed to stop ISIS before it formed!
KAINE: Donald Trump failed to pay his taxes!
PENCE: You’re holding Trump to an impossible standard! Unfair!
KAINE: I have to respond to this…
PENCE: No, I have to respond to this…
QUIJANO: I have to ask you to stop talking over each other because literally nobody can hear you…
Sorry, Elaine, but it would appear that YOU got stuck working the shift where BOTH candidates graduated from the Kanye West School Of Letting People Finish, But.
I have some advice for the next time Elaine Quijano moderates one of these damn things. I’m not proud of this, but as this is National Teacher Day, I might as well divulge the one trick that saved me when my classes got derailed. And that is called ‘screaming.’
No, Elaine, I’m not advocating that you start yelling indiscriminately. You stick to the script. Just ratchet up the volume to an 11 for a little while and then return to normal as if nothing had ever happened. Try it!
QUIJANO: Senator, I’M GOING TO GIVE YOU ABOUT 30 SECONDS TO RESPOND and then I have a question about Social Security for you.
That’s my trick. Lose that shit for half a sentence and everyone is afraid of you. Whatcha gonna do? You aren’t afraid of shrieking your head off. Maybe you might slap somebody! I don’t know! But they’re not going to shout over you if you show them that you’re not afraid to yell half a sentence like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction.
Alas, Elaine Quijano remained focused on being the only professional human being in the room, and we all suffered for it:
PENCE: “Donald Trump’s laid out a plan to end illegal immigration once and for all in this country…”
TRUMPSLATOR: “Say it. Say ‘BUILD A WALL.’ SAY IT, my little monkey puppet!”
KAINE: Donald Trump during his campaign has called Mexicans rapists and criminals. He’s called women slobs, pigs, dogs, disgusting. I don’t like saying that in front of my wife and my mother. He attacked an Indiana-born federal judge and said he was unqualified to hear a federal lawsuit because his parents were Mexican. He went after John McCain, a POW, and said he wasn’t hero because he’d been captured. He said African-Americans are living in Hell. And he perpetrated this outrageous and bigoted lie that President Obama is not a U.S. citizen.
As much as I enjoyed the Vice Presidential Fight Club, I have to say the one with Ed Norton was better. Pence derailed from talking about his awful track record on LGBT issues by complaining about immigrants. Kaine made an offhand remark about how much time he spends “on his knees.” Pence whined about Hillary’s “deplorables” remark and how much it hurts those hard-working Americans who just happen to enjoy lighting a cross or two on fire in someone’s front yard and who genuinely believe this is actually happening:
If the satire fits, wear it.
Was this boring, politics as usual? No, but is any part of this campaign “politics as usual”? At least this one seemed to be a little closer to a fair fight.
…Well, “fair” to anyone but poor Elaine Quijado, who was unable to get a word in edgewise. She was pretty much rendered incapable of moderating, which, in a sense, means….
They took her job. (Dey terk her joooorrrrb!)
Meghan Sara has written obnoxiously opinionated pieces for Queenthings, Femnasty, xoJane, and BUST. Meghan has spent the past seven years of her life blogging incessantly at meghansara.com, and the last five years of her life telling ghost stories on the streets of Manhattan with Ghosts, Murders and Mayhem Walking Tours. Fervent feminist, outspoken opinionist, and not half-bad taco chef, Meghan dotes over her garden of homebred succulents by day and hasn’t met a sangria she didn’t like by night. When Meghan isn’t oversharing her opinions on Twitter, she’s at Burning Man. When she isn’t at Burning Man, she’s wishing she was.